How Much Exercise Do You Really Need?

As a former gym rat who thought I’d get “so skinny” if I ever ran a marathon, I can tell you that the more time you workout does not directly impact how much you weigh or how strong you get. It’s about training smart.

This should come as a relief if you are reading this postpartum or work crazy hours at your job. You do not need to do a “booty call” cardio session in the morning and then a strength training workout in the evening to tone up. In fact, you might only need 30 minutes total 3 times a week to have your best body ever.

I think we should first talk about what our goals are. If your goal is to simply reap the health benefits of exercise, 15-minutes a day of moderate intensity is enough. I’m talking about your cholesterol, mood, bone density, heart disease, etc.. The ones you don’t necessarily see on the outside but help you live longer.

However, if you want to lose weight or build muscle you should aim to get about 30-60 minutes 5 days a week of moderate exercise OR 20-60 minutes of vigorous activity 3 days a week.

I choose the later.

My goal postpartum is to workout 3 days a week.

I’ve chosen Saturday to be the start of my workout week. I am more likely to be able to exercise during the weekend so this gives me a little more flexibility if I have a busy week and I don’t feel bad.

I’m not working out to lose weight. I’m working out because it’s something I enjoy. I enjoy spending time with my boys first and foremost, so exercise will always come second to spending time with them. If it takes me twice as long to reach my goals this time around, I’m fine with that. Exercise is something I love, it’s my brand because it’s something I want to do usually. I felt unmotivated down the Cape this summer but now that I’m back in Boston, I can’t wait to visit my favorite studios and classes.


I will admit though that I am concerned about my fall wardrobe. I do not have many clothes that currently fit except for leggings. If I want to wear my jeans, I’ll have to lose a few pounds. That is part of my motivation. I don’t want to have to buy all new clothes, I’m not a fashionista nor do I have the time to go and try them on.

I find that my body responds best to strength exercise but I enjoy/crave cardio more.

Cardio is like my therapy. However, it doesn’t help me lose weight. I enjoy it and it helps me to destress and reduce anxiety. I love running despite my lack of passion for it lately. After Tommy was born, I ran the Pittsburgh Half Marathon 16 weeks postpartum. It was really hard to train so soon after giving birth and I thought it would have me back at my pre-baby weight but it did not. It just made me extra hungry. I don’t do the self starvation thing so yeah… my weight was stagnant. This is how I finally got back to my “fighting” shape after 9 months.

My HIIT Workout for Fast Results

I exercised 5-6 days a week after Tommy!?! I *may* have taken the above photo after food poisoning but still, I did look like this 9 months after he was born.

I do not have time to do workout like that anymore. However, I’d rather exercise than get a manicure so when I have a hour to myself on the weekend, my first thought is to sign up for a class.

Since my goal is 3 days a week, I’m aiming for a mix of cardio and strength but mostly HIIT which kind of combines the two.

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I went running this weekend down the cape because I wanted some alone time. It was glorious. I had to stop about 3 times and was sore for 3 days. I did not wear a watch to track my pace or heart rate. I just went with how I felt and enjoyed every step until the last 5 minutes when my legs felt done.

Yesterday, I had a sitter help me out and I took advantage to take a Peloton class.


That makes me one workout away from my goal and I’m going to try to sign up for a strength class where I can bring Connor while Tommy is in school. Meeting a goal that is attainable is so fulfilling for me which is important for postpartum mental health.

This is my personal goal to start. Exercise doesn’t really lead to weight loss for me so when I’m really ready to lose weight, it will be diet changes that do it. For now, I’m just working on maintaining my optimism and happiness as I learn the ropes of managing two kids while being a work from home mom.

I challenge you guys who follow me for fitness inspiration or your daily dose of normal in a wacky world of social media to aim for 3 workouts a week in whatever form you like 20-60 minutes long. You can do it.

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